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Sport Fish Restoration: Where Money Does Buy Happiness

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Published on: Oct. 2, 1995

Last revision: Oct. 20, 2010

fishing. "Today, our citizens across the country enjoy improved recreational fishing and boating access at lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and the ocean. I am proud to be a continuing part of this essential and worthwhile program."

The effect of this Wallop-Breaux Amendment was an immediate three-fold increase in money. In Missouri, the amendment boosted funds available to the Conservation Department from about $800,000 before the amendment to almost $3 million in 1986, the first year money was provided from the expanded legislation. Now, 9 years later, the act makes available about $5.5 million annually for sport fishing projects in Missouri.

Historically, the Conservation Department has targeted 24 percent of this money for research studies; 28 percent for public lake management; 5 percent for private lake management; 8 percent for aquatic education; 12 percent for boating access development and 23 percent for hatchery or small lake development.

Missourians have always had a tradition of strongly supporting fish management in this state. Expansion of the Sport Fish Restoration Act has allowed the Conservation Department to dramatically and quickly improve habitat and sport fishing in rivers and streams. Although federal aid is not used directly for stream management projects, many other fish management projects could be supported with the new money, freeing state money for stream work.

The new stream fisheries management program that began in 1986 was broadened in 1989 to become a Conservation Department-wide effort called Streams for the Future. This program addresses both present and future stream needs and emphasizes citizen awareness of stream needs, services to stream-side landowners and managing public lands that contain streams and stream corridors.

Most Missouri ponds and lakes had great fishing even before the increase in Sport Fish Restoration money. Biologists have long managed lake fish populations and their habitats

The additional money, however, allowed biologists to more thoroughly evaluate the results of management practices, such as minimum size limits on crappie in large reservoirs. It also has allowed the addition of large brush piles as fish attractors in Bull Shoals, Norfork, Stockton and other lakes that have few trees in the water.

Thanks to the increased funds, the Conservation Department also can now more actively manage small city-owned lakes that are used for water supply or recreation and are managed by the Conservation Department to provide close-to home fishing. Currently, 122 small lakes totaling over 9,445 acres are in the Conservation Department's Community Assistance Program.

Money from the Sport Fish Restoration Act has allowed the Conservation Department to conduct important new research into state fisheries.

Projects are currently underway in streams to improve management of smallmouth bass, rock bass and crayfish in the Ozarks. Relationships between aquatic life, stream habitat and forest conditions near streams are being studied in north Missouri and the Ozarks. And a statewide survey of Missouri fishes is underway to reveal what changes have occurred over time.

The largest project funded by the Sport Fish Restoration Act is the Lost Valley Hatchery near Warsaw. When completed, this facility will be one of the most modern hatcheries in the nation and will produce fish for numerous management programs around the state.

If you are an angler or boater at Lake of the Ozarks, you probably know about Conservation Department accesses at Coffman Beach, Shawnee Bend and Niangua Arm. These accesses might not yet exist, if not for the federal money made possible by the Wallop-Breaux Amendment.

Aquatic Resource Education has been another direct benefactor of the increased funding. The Conservation Department has been able to expand this essential program and provide more fishing equipment and instructors for urban fishing clinics. In addition, educational materials have been provided to more than 75,000 teachers and one-half million students and inner city residents.

Volunteers have found ways to make those federal dollars stretch even further. For example, members of Muskies Inc., helped save money by working with biologists to add fish habitat structures in Pomme de Terre Lake.

The money that you contributed through the Sport Fish Restoration Act by buying rods, reels and other taxed items made these and many other improvements in Missouri's fishing possible. The Dingell-Johnson Act is an important piece of legislation and is well worth protecting, should it become necessary, with a letter or a phone call or a vote

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